Tag Archive for: Web Design

The Oldest Web Mistress in Captivity!

By Kay Kendall
Once upon a time—let’s
say 1994—I directed public relations for a science institute that developed the
second website in all of the great state of Texas. The scientist who designed this
strange bird was proud, knowing it was The Future. However, try as he might, he
could not get the other scientists to understand how important it was, this new
wave of communication.
Finally, at long last, a
second scientist got with the program and complained in a Faculty Meeting,
august body that it was, how sad this institute’s website was, how deplorable,
how it needed so much work to become great. Yada yada yada. Ego being what it
is, scientist #1 got furious, said, “Fine Then you run the danged thing. I quit.” And so he did.
Suddenly the scientists
realized their website was indeed a precious commodity and needed tending…but
who was to do it? Certainly they
could not do the work. They were far too important for such a mundane chore. So
the scientists looked around and found, lo and behold, the PR lady, beavering
away in her office. She only wrote news releases and newsletters, such silly
little things. Surely SHE had time to do a website, even though SHE was not at
all technically inclined. (Yes, of course there was an IT department, but those
folks also were far too busy and important to manage a website.)
And that is the tale of
how I—a liberal arts person to the core with nary a technical bone in my body–got
dragged kicking and screaming into the digital world. The journey was arduous
and the climb to competence was steep, but eventually I learned to develop and
maintain this website. I confess I knew all along in my
non-technically-inclined bones that this endeavor would be good for me. What I
never suspected, however, was that it would turn out to guarantee my job
Soon I began to joke about my web work. I called myself…The Oldest Web Mistress in
Captivity. I often wondered how many other aging baby boomers were handling institutional
websites circa 1995. Not many back in the day, I bet.
Recently I got to musing
about my dalliance with all things digital as I fiddled with my author
homepage, placed ads for my mystery DESOLATION ROW on my Facebook page, and
Tweeted about an online interview I’d done. If I had not been forced into the
digital world almost twenty years ago, how would I be doing today? Would I be
like so many of my friends and age-mates, scared of All These New Things?
I am reminded of my
mother and how she never learned how to operate the new hi-fi that my father
brought home as a surprise for her one day in the 1950s. If she wanted to
listen to a 33-rpm LP, then she had to ask him or me to do it for her. Now, she
was not a stupid woman, far from it. Yet she would just throw up her hands, say
“I can’t do things like that” and add “Please do it for me.” I believe some of
that wariness towards all things technical rubbed off on me, made me scared. Alas,
I’m sure I lost many decades of growing competence that way.
Now of course I thank my former scientific colleagues who insisted I do the institute’s web work. And thank heavens I’m
comfortable in this digital new world order.
And my mother? Shortly
before her death at age 91, she confided to me that it had all been an act,
pretending not to understand how to use various machines. Grinning, she told me, “That
way, I could always get someone to do it for me.” But, as for me…well, I’d rather do
it myself! 
Kay Kendall is the author of Desolation Row–An Austin Starr Mystery. You can view the book’s trailer on YouTube or catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook,and Goodreads. Kay blogs here with the Stiletto Gang every first and third Wednesdays of each month. 

It’s YOUR Story, Tell It Well

For an author, I spend an inordinate amount of thinking about other authors’ websites. In
fact, I spend about half my day making other writers look good. That’s my afternoon
gig, at AuthorBytes, where I assist in the multifaceted process that delivers an engaging and professional online presence to our more than 500 clients. AuthorBytes founder,
Steve Bennett, was nice enough to pinch hit for me today at the Stiletto Gang, sharing his expertise and insight on what defines an excellent website. Thanks, Steve! Oh, and you can always visit me at lauraspinella.net   
By Steve Bennett
“What makes for a good author website?” prospective clients often ask me.
There are the obvious elements: A good author website should be like a grand hotel room. The location of every amenity and necessity should be obvious and easy to find. It should be engaging for book buyers and media friendly–a one-stop go-to spot that can give reporters and producers all the information they need. Elegant design and a little razzle dazzle never hurts either.
But let’s go beyond the wrapper. What about the soul of a great site? That’s the real differentiator. And that’s a much more difficult element to articulate than design and information architecture.
For insight into the matter, I turned to a gym buddy of mine, Pharame (pronounced “farmee,” who’s known throughout the health club I frequent as an expert on the human soul. He’s also a testament to the fortune of good genes and the wisdom of a good workout routine – at 64, he sports a body that most 24-year-olds would die for.
Since Pharame’s not a web guy, I asked him a general question that I knew would be within his bailiwick: “Why are we here?”
He laughed, slapped me on the back in a friendly gesture that nonetheless knocked the wind out of me, then boomed, “Stevie! You are born naked and you die naked. In between, it’s YOUR story. So tell it WELL.”
No one ever nailed it better.
A good author website IS your story.
And telling it WELL is about using technology, words, and images to have a conversation with your site visitors in an oh so brief span of time. It’s about voice–talking “to,” rather than “at,” your audience, just as you would in a good radio interview. It’s about intimacy–revealing what motivates you and what makes you tick as a writer. It’s about credibility–conveying your authority while keeping your ego in check. And it’s about humility–respecting your viewers’ time and being grateful for the fact that there are hundreds of millions of websites they could be visiting,  Make their visit memorable; let your site tell your story.
When Pharame made his eye-opening statement, he was speaking universally—a life affirming comment about why we are here. He spoke with authority.  As an author, it’s your goal to do the same. It’s your story, so tell it well.